Nowadays, fielding a professional website is a must for individuals and organizations of all stripes. In any given year, over 140,000 sites are launched each day according to the most recent statistics.
Due to the complexity of modern websites, using a site builder to handle the development details is more popular than ever. Unfortunately, choosing the right website builder for the task is easier said than done.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Website Builder
It’s important to ask yourself a few questions about what you want from a website builder before committing to a platform. A few critical factors to ponder include:
Features and Functionality
Every website builder has its own unique strengths and weaknesses when it comes to crafting the site you need. Some website builders like WordPress can be used to create everything from a simple blog to a full-fledged e-commerce portal. Other site builders like Wix or Squarespace are better suited to producing “landing page” destinations that are meant for promotion.
Ease of Setup and Administration
The biggest barrier to entry for most people looking to launch a website is the initial site configuration process. Some website builders feature simple drag-and-drop design interfaces while others require site owners to navigate a more complex admin panel. If you don’t have any prior experience with site deployment, a point-and-click site builder is your best bet.
Technical Support Options
As a site grows and evolves, back-end and front-end tweaks are necessary to ensure that everything runs like clockwork. Some website builders provide technical support by default as part of the monthly bill. Other site builders like WordPress force users to rely on forums and documentation for support. Having access to high-quality technical support is a must for amateur site owners.
Pricing and Overall Operating Costs
Thanks to stiff competition in the site builder industry, most popular options charge the same general prices for their services. However, some are more expensive than others depending on what you want out of your site. Furthermore, fully-hosted site builder platforms vary quite a bit when it comes to costs associated with bandwidth and e-commerce payment processing.
Five Website Builders That Never Disappoint
Easily the most popular website builder or CMS around, WordPress forms the backbone of 30 percent of the sites you’ll find on the web. While it was originally designed to power simple blogs, this PHP-based framework allows webmasters to tack on any feature via its rich plug-in ecosystem. A variety of themes are available to create a unique look for any site.
Easily the best thing about WordPress is its versatility when it comes to crafting any kind of site. It’s fast, secure and cheap to boot. The major downside of WordPress is its steeper learning curve.
If you opt for a self-hosted WordPress installation, the software is free. If you want a fully-hosted site via WordPress.com, prices start at $48 per year for personal use.
When it comes to drag-and-drop website configuration, Wix is easily the best website builder on the market at present. This freemium web builder gives users the power to slap together HTML5-compliant sites with impeccable mobile browser compatibility in less than five minutes. Thanks to its acquisition of DeviantArt in 2017, Wix has far better site themes than any other builder.
Thanks to its user-friendly interface, Wix has grown by leaps and bounds in the past year. What’s more, Wix has hundreds of layout templates as well as plug-ins for every social media platform and e-commerce solution. Best of all, Wix’s pricing is quite affordable for sites of all sizes. On the flip side, Wix makes it very difficult to migrate your data to another platform.
If you like the power of WordPress but want a more intuitive site builder to work with, Boldgrid is a great solution. It gives users a very Wix-like UI to navigate and is offered by thousands of web hosts. Boldgrid gives users access to simple drag-and-drop site configuration, tons of gorgeous themes, a custom SEO analysis tool, and much, much more.
Like many WYSIWYG website builders, Boldgrid prides itself on its ability to accelerate the web development process. The software itself is easy to use and more or less glitch-free. It also allows more technical users to tweak specific aspects of their sites via source code if drag-and-drop editing won’t cut it. The only real downside of Boldgrid is the lack of a fully-hosted option.
One of the most popular website builders on the market, Weebly is yet another drag-and-drop builder favored by small businesses and solo entrepreneurs. It boasts tons of responsive templates, hundreds of third-party apps, and a top-notch content delivery system for easy blogging. For just $12 a month, the Pro version of Weebly gives site owners unlimited storage space and a custom domain name.
The best thing about Weebly is that it handles all the hosting and security concerns that admins have to worry about at incredibly fair prices. Furthermore, Weebly is a great option for creating an e-commerce portal if you don’t have a lot of experience configuring websites. The main downsides include a smaller roster of standard features and a three percent commission on every e-commerce transaction.
If you need to deploy a site that looks polished and modern in minutes, Squarespace is one of the best options around. A simple drag-and-drop setup UI is augmented by a style editor that allows you to tweak HTML and CSS. Squarespace is a fully-hosted site builder that takes care of backend IT details for customers while delivering reliable performance.
The most compelling selling point of Squarespace is its ability to produce gorgeous sites that stand out without much hassle. As far as the user learning curve is concerned, Squarespace sits somewhere between WordPress and Weebly. Phenomenal support for transaction processors like PayPal and Stripe makes it easy to add an e-commerce storefront to your site. The only problem with Squarespace is that it isn’t as flexible as WordPress.